BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Purely Proteins Ltd. completed a second-round funding of $3.6 million, enabling it to expand its ultra-purified human proteins, both as targets and therapeutics.

At the same time, the Cambridge, UK-based company announced a collaboration with Asahi-Kasei Corp., of Tokyo, to develop new methods for purifying proteins.

David Bailey, Purely Proteins' CEO, told BioWorld International: "Purifying individual proteins is a lucrative market. We intend to build both our infrastructure and our intellectual property. We already generate revenue, and as we develop more products we will reduce the burn rate."

The funding, led by Avlar Bioventures, with participation by VCT2 plc and Bioscience VCT plc, is expected to see Purely Proteins through to profitability in the next 18 to 24 months. "The market is expanding dramatically," Bailey said. "This funding will enable us to build the infrastructure to respond to that."

In particular, he expects the market to be driven by the commissioning in 2007 of a new synchrotron that is under construction in Oxford. "A huge amount of pure proteins will be required once this is up and running," Bailey said.

Purely Proteins was set up in 2002 to meet the need for purified human proteins that arose as companies focused drug discovery activities on the proteome. It raised just under £1 million (US$1.8 million) in its first round in November 2003. The company also offers drug discovery services and specializes in new ways of purifying existing protein therapeutics and scaling-up production of proteins.

The research collaboration with Asahi-Kasei will focus on devising new methods for purifying proteins, using ligand discovery systems developed by Purely Proteins. No further details were disclosed, but Bailey said both companies expect to generate intellectual property through the collaboration.

"It shows that small companies like ourselves can do deals with larger partners," he said.

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